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Herdo'nius, Ap'pius

a Sabine chieftain, who, in B. C. 460, during the disturbances that preceded tne Terentilian law at Rome, with a band of outlaws and slaves, made himself master of the capitol. The enterprise was so well planned and conducted, that the first intimation of it to the people of Rome was the war-shout and trumpets of the invaders from the summit of the capitoline hill. Herdonius was most probably in league with a section of the patrician party, and especially with the Fabian house, one of whose members, Kaeso Fabius, had recently been exiled for his violence in the comitia. Without some connivance within the city, the exploit of Herdonius seems incredible. At the head of at least 4000 men (Liv. 3.15; Dionys. A. R. 10.14), he dropped down the Tiber, passed unhailed under the walls of Rome, and through the Carmental gate, which, although from a religious feeling (Liv. 2.49; Ov. Fasti, 2.201), it was always open, was certainly not usually unguarded, and ascended the clivus capitolinus by a peopled street, the vicus jugalis. Herdonius proclaimed freedom to slaves who should join him, abolition of debts, and defence of the plebs from their oppressors. But his offers attracted neither bond nor free man, and his demand that the exiles should be recalled was equally disregarded. His success indeed was confined to the capture of the citadel. On the fourth day from his entry the capitol was re-taken, and Herdonius and nearly all his followers were slain, after a desperate and protracted resistance. (Liv. 3.15-19; Dionys. A. R. 10.14-17.) The exploit of Herdonius, although much misrepresented by both Livy and Dionysius, and probably by the annalists whom they consulted, throws considerable light on the political history of Rome in the first century of the republic. It is amply narrated by Niebuhr (Hist. of Rome, vol. ii. pp. 293-296), and analysed by Arnold (Hist. of Rome, vol. i. c. xi. note 11.)


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460 BC (1)
hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 49
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 15
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 3, 19
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